Abby, Asher’s mama, was patient and strong over the course of her 48 hour labor. She was patient with her body and connected to her baby. Labor started the day before Josh’s birthday on December 29thand Asher was born on the 31st. Being the accountant he is, I bet Josh was thrilled with his new little tax deduction! And be sure to notice in the film how Josh never leaves Abby’s side.
After Asher was born, Abby insisted that the midwife wait to cut the cord, wait to put medicine in Asher’s eyes and wait to weigh him. And the midwife and hospital respected her wishes all the way. Way to go, Abby!
And thank you, Abby, for being willing to show your film to the world (or at least 400 of those in the world) at our Empowering Fearless Birth Event!
Abby so graciously allowed me to publish her birth story here. And Katie took these GORGEOUS photos. I tried my best to sabatoge her efforts to leave the country, but alas, she went anyway *sniff sniff*. I look forward to documenting births with her again when she returns. Serious talent. You are missed, Katie!
Friday, January 18, 2013
Asher’s Birth Story
I always thought people were crazy when I heard they didn’t get an epidural for labor. And I supposed we are. 😀 I do not tolerate pain well, and I always thought I would be the first in line for pain meds when it came to birth. All the movies and culture I grew up in taught me that labor was excruciatingly painful and that the experience of childbirth was a negative thing.
My first experience with a natural birth was consequently the first birth I ever witnessed personally. It was a friend of my families that I had stayed in contact with since moving to Ohio. In 2010 I photographed her second son’s birth. She had chosen a water birth with a midwife at her home and of course being that it was at her home, she had no pain medication. What I expected was for her to scream bloody murder every time she had a contraction. That is what the movies and tv shows show you, so it must be accurate… right? Wrong. Cyndi was the quietest woman in labor. When a contraction came she would relax. Her arms would float to the top of the water and her head would drop back as her body would go limp. In between contractions she would be alert, talking, and laughing with us. The first time I saw her go through a contraction I leaned to her husband and asked if she was sleeping. When the contraction was over she laughed and told me that she had been going through a contraction. I was floored. How could someone be so calm and
so relaxed during a labor contraction!?
Once her son was born and the cord was cut she showered, got changed into these adorable PJs, and came out of the bathroom exclaiming, “I feel great!” This moment was a paradigm shift for me. That was when I started looking more into natural labor and learning about all the options I had for my future pregnancies. I am grateful for this experience because it taught me that I had several options for birth and that I could
choose how I wanted to delivery my future children. It was life changing for me.
Josh and I attended Hypnobirthing classes with Laura Curtis and we really loved all the amazing information and training we received there. We felt much more confident going into birth because we had practiced our scripts and breathing techniques. Josh and I didn’t ever make a “birth plan” which was a blessing as things when very differently than I had originally thought they would. I read in the book “Birthing From Within” that it was a better idea to simply allow your birth to unfold how it will. We decided it would be a better idea to let my body tell me how and what to do than make a plan and be disappointed if anything went different. I did, however, envision what I thought his birth would be like so to a degree I had some ideas of how I thought it would go. Funny thing is almost none of the things I thought would occur happened the way I imagined. I am so very glad that I decided to not do a birth plan because it unfolded just how it should, which was better.
I wanted to do a natural birth with as few interventions as possible. I have several friends who do home births and I was open to the idea, however Josh wanted to deliver in a hospital. I didn’t mind going to a hospital as long as could use a midwife as my primary caretaker. We agreed a certified nurse midwife in a hospital was the best fit for us. I
was referred to my midwife Paula by a woman I met in one of our past wards in Provo. When we went to meet with her at the first appointment she asked Josh and I how we envisioned the birth of our son. I was taken back. No one had ever asked me this before. In my surprise I stumbled out a few of the things we wanted. She listened and then said something along the lines of, “Great! Those all sound like things I can help you accomplish barring any medical emergencies. My first priority is healthy mom and baby. Second to that I want to make your son’s birth the experience you want.” I knew at that moment that I wanted her to be our midwife. When we found out she has less than a 2% intervention rate it sealed the deal.
The pregnancy went smooth other than some morning sickness and normally achy bones towards the end, although I was pretty comfortable because I went to the chiropractor and massage therapist. The last few weeks though I was just uncomfortable and tired of being huge.
At 37 weeks I was 1 centimeter dilated and not thinned out much at all. At 39 weeks I was still only 1 centimeter and not thinning. It was the week of our anniversary and Christmas. Paula said she would be surprised if she saw us before Christmas, which I was fine with. I wanted him to come after Christmas so that his birthday was easier. I did want to move things along though so I got some primrose oil from Laurel and starting taking it twice a day. I also took baths with a few drops of clary sage essential oil and rubbed it on my stomach. And I walked a lot. Josh often had the car for work and school so I was used to walking everywhere, anyway but now I just made a point to take more walks around
the neighborhood or with Josh after work. As soon as Christmas passed I felt really anxious to have this baby because Josh had school starting again the first week of January and I wanted him to have time to bond with Asher before he was super busy again. I was also just tired of being pregnant and as much as everyone said to sleep now before the baby comes, it was really hard to sleep well when I was so uncomfortable. My cervix was really hurting as well since our baby was pushing on it so it made walking and getting in and out of a car or bed painful. I believe in letting babies come when they are ready whenever possible, but it was really hard. I was so tired of being pregnant! So I made an appointment with my massage therapist, Tyffani, to do some acupressure to help start labor. I also went to the chiropractor and got adjusted. The chiropractor did a different type of adjust on me that he said would open the cervix. I was doing every natural thing I could think of to induce labor that week while I also tried to focus on enjoying the last few days I had with Josh alone.
When Josh and I went to our 40 week appointment with Paula we talked about our options. She checked me and I was 3 centimeters dilated and almost all thinned out! Maybe it was coincidence, but I believe that some of the many things I tried worked! Paula talked to us about the placenta and the dangers of it calcifying and not feeding our baby as well the longer it aged. She suggested planning an induction at the hospital on Sunday when I hit 41 weeks. She said she didn’t like inducing, but that she thought all I needed was a “jump start” for my body to know what to do. She said we would only use 1ml of pitocin and increase it every hour or so until my body took over, then we would turn it off. She scheduled the induction for 6am Sunday the 30th (soooo early!). We went home and for days after we scheduled it I felt sick about it. It didn’t feel like the right option for us at that time. It was not how I wanted labor to begin and I was really worried about being able to deliver naturally with pitocin because I heard it makes the contractions so much more painful. I was also worried about the statistics of me having an intervention were so much higher if I was induced, especially being a first time mom. Josh and I talked about it and decided that we would call Paula and ask if we could push the induction until Wednesday so I could have more time to let my body go into labor on its own. I felt more peaceful about this option. We called both our families and asked everyone to pray for us. I did not want to hold back being induced if it was medically necessary for the health of me or our child, but I felt that pushing the induction back was the right thing for us. I felt peaceful about it.
Saturday the 29th around 6am I started feeling contractions (called surges in hypnobirthing or waves in the bradley method). I got really excited and didn’t want them to stop so I woke up Josh and asked him if we could go walking to move the contractions along. He groggily agreed and we went to the mall but it was still closed. So WalMart is where we ended up. I would weave in and out of each aisle while Josh would walk slowly down the center and I would tell him when they started and stopped so he could time them on my phone. I texted Laurel my doula and Josh kept track of my contractions. I didn’t want to know how long they were or how far apart. I wanted to labor without knowing times and feeling pressure to move things along. I just wanted to let my body do what it
was meant to at its own pace. Funny how I had no idea how long that would be. 🙂
In the late morning my surges subsided but then sometime in the afternoon they started again. I was able to mostly ignore them because they were so mild. As time went on they increased in intensity, but they still didn’t hurt. It just felt like my muscles were working out a bit. I called Laurel and told her my concerns about not being in pain. I thought maybe I wasn’t really in labor because it didn’t hurt. This may seem silly to those who know much about hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing teaches that labor and delivery doesn’t need to be painful. All those who referred me to the program, though, told me to expect pain and to use the program to deal with the pain. Laurel assured me that they were contractions even if I wasn’t experiencing pain. I was very excited that each surge was painless. In fact, surges were welcomed and I loved feeling the rushes as the came over my body. My absolute favorite part of labor was sinking into my husband’s arm, having him light touch massage my arms and back, and gently coach me on my breathing techniques.
That evening the surges were coming more intense to the point I couldn’t ignore them anymore, but I still wouldn’t consider them painful – just very intense. I am not sure how to describe them other than they would wash over my body and rise in intensity until they peaked, then the sensation would subside. They were intense and took over my whole body
later in labor. The surges were still far apart but I wanted them to come because it meant I was closer to having my baby.
I had previously envisioned myself laboring in the living room on my birthing ball or in the tub but I ended up laboring most of the time in the baby’s room. I would lean up against the crib with my arms and sway my hips when the surges came. I can’t explain why but that is just what my body wanted to do. My feet were about shoulder length apart, my bum
would be in the air, and I would lean and just relax my body and let the contractions come over me. The best way to put it is I let the surges take over my body. This was something Laurel told me once when I was having braxton hicks contractions and it stuck with me in labor. I needed to surrender to the surges and relax so they could do their work.
If I tensed up they would be worse and I would be fighting the point of a surge – to push my baby down. If I tensed my muscles than the surge is less effective. So I worked at surrendering myself to each wave. I actually really enjoyed the surges while I labored at home. Only towards the end of laboring at home did they start to get so intense I could
see how people would find they were painful. But for me, once I relaxed they weren’t so bad.
As the contractions progressed I asked Josh for a priesthood blessing to calm my fears about the upcoming birth. A priesthood blessing is a prayer of healing, comfort, or counsel that worthy male members of the LDS church who hold the can give others by the laying on of hands on the head of the person receiving it. The blessing was beautiful and gave me
assurance and advice. The thing that stuck with me the most throughout the labor and delivery was that God would not give me more than I could handle and that this experience would bring me closer to Him and my Heavenly Mother. I am so grateful Josh could give me this blessing.
As the evening came Josh was in the babies room with me timing contractions and texting Laurel and my videoographer, Sarah. They decided to come up sometime around dinner time I think. Funny thing about labor is I had little concept of time. I had Josh cover all the
clocks at the house so I didn’t feel pressure to hurry, but even at the hospital I have a warped sense of time. Things that took an hour felt like they only took 15 minutes. I believe it was a blessing for laboring woman and I really appreciated it since I labored longer than the average woman.
Anyway, I think Laurel, Natalie (a backup doula who was shadowing Laurel) and
Sarah came over around dinner time because Josh went out and got Pizza for them and Zupas for me. Laurel had me go into my bedroom and lie down while Josh went out. She told me to rest, which looking back would have been a great idea. At the time I was too excited and concentrated on laboring that I couldn’t think about sleeping. So I laid down for a while but never had the desire to sleep. I did talk to Asher in my stomach. I took time to enjoy what I thought were the last few hours I would have him inside of me. It may sound silly, but as much as I was tired of being pregnant I realized while in labor that I would miss aspects of pregnancy. At that time, we were connected physically. Soon, he would be out and the umbilical cord would be cut and he would be his own person completely. I needed a bit more time with just him and I am glad I got it. I mourned the fact that he would no longer be a part of me but talked to him about how excited I was to have him in my arms soon. A little while later Josh brought me in my Tomato Basil soup and Ham and Bacon Club from Zupas. He took away my plate when I was done and
I asked him to come back in and cuddle. He came back in and we spent some time cuddling the last time as a pregnant wife and husband. He put his arms around my belly and we talked about how I was going to miss having our son connected to me. We talked about the excitement of him being born and how things were going to change.
After a while I wanted to go back out and labor in the babies room again. I texted my mom and Kristin, my best friend, to see if they wanted to come down and labor with me. I thought I was close to having the baby so I wanted to invite them to come over and labor with me until we went to the hospital. Until then we turned on music and everyone just chilled in the babies room. Whenever I had a surge I would try to warn people it was coming (I am not sure how I knew, I just knew when one was about to start) and wherever I was I either leaned against something or someone would hurry over and stand in front of me so I could fall into their arms – literally. I would drop my weight into them as my knees relaxed and my cheek would be smashed against them. Other people would push on my back for counter pressure.
Every surge was different and different people would be either my support or my counter pressure, however I always wanted Josh to be my support. If he was near he would be the one to catch me and I would just melt into him as I let the surge overtake me. I found it very comforting to have him be my support. It was a special moment to have him physically and emotionally support me during each wave. He would often softly encourage
things to me as the surges came, peaked, and melted away. He could tell by the way I moaned when a surge was at its most intense part and when it was subsiding. He would say, “Almost done.. you can do it! Good! It’s going away now.” and “You got through the last one you can get through this one.” He would gently touch my forehead to get me to relax more. He was an amazing labor support to say the least. I felt closer to him
through the whole experience. I felt that we were in this together and I loved the connection I felt with him each time he helped me through a surge. I felt so close to him during each surge he supported me that I often kissed him afterwords. It was a very intimate connection.
Labor was slow and my doulas were worried I was thinking too much about moving labor along, so they turned on pandora to get me to not pay attention to time. I put on my classic rock station with the Eagles, Boston, Styxs, Beatles, etc. It was amazing how the songs that came on fit into my emotions at the time. “Stand by Me” came on and I started crying because it fit so perfectly with how I felt about Josh as my labor support at the time. A lot of Beatles songs came on which seemed to also fit really well, like “Let It Be.”
When Kristin got to the house she put in the movie “Across the Universe” on my laptop and set it on the baby’s changing table. To give you an idea of how warped my idea of time was, I thought she had just put in the soundtrack when actually the whole movie played. So what I thought was about 30-45 minutes of music was actually a 2+ hour movie. I was so concentrated on laboring that I wasn’t paying attention. My mom and Hannah were there by this time and they hung out in the room and throughout the house. In between surges I would talk to people. I mentioned that I couldn’t ever get a birth photographer to work out because he was due around Christmas and things just kept falling through with photographer after photographer. Laurel and Sarah both mentioned a
woman named Katie Loveless that loves doing birth stories. They texted her and asked about how much she would charge to do this last minute. We agreed on a price via text through Laurel and she headed over. I had never seen her work but I trusted Sarah and Laurel’s opinions and at that point, I was happy to have anyone photographing it.
Eventually I felt like going to the hospital. I thought I was getting closer. Laurel is certified to check dilation but I didn’t want to be checked. I figured I would just let my body do its thing at its own pace. Katie the photographer got to the house as we (and by we I mean everyone but me) was packing up and getting the cars warmed up so we could go to the
hospital. I had a few surges in the kitchen while we were getting ready to go to the hospital. Katie Loveless the photographer showed up about this time.
Josh drove our car with me in the middle back seat while Natalie and Laurel were on either side of me. I was grateful that while it was very cold outside the roads were clear. A couple days previous there had been storms that would have been stressful driving through. I had a few surges on the way to the hospital and they weren’t as hard to handle as I anticipated in the car. In the car I saw what time it was – about 1:30am and I thought, “Well… I guess I don’t have pressure to have this baby on the 29th. His birthday will be the 30th instead of the 29th.” hahaha Little did I know. ;D
We got to the hospital and checked in. Josh got on the phone that you have to use to have the doors open. He said to the nurse on the other line, “We would like to have a baby.” It was funny… especially at 2am. When we got to the desk I asked if I could be assigned a nurse that was familiar and friendly towards hypnobirthing. She got excited and said
she had her first two kids naturally with the bradley method. I felt more secure that there were nurses there that had done natural births. I felt much more supported and safe. She showed us to our room – room #3 which I was happy about because its my lucky number. hahaha
Once in the room the nurse came in and introduced herself. She got me settled in and asked if I wanted to get into the hospital gown, which I declined. I wanted to feel like a normal woman giving birth in my own clothes instead of a patient who was sick. Plus, I
didn’t want to be in a gown for photographs. 🙂 hahaha The nurse had to stick me 3 times to get a hep lock IV in. The first two tries were on my left hand and both times my veins blew out when she tried. It hurt worse than a surge and I had to use my surge breathing to get through each one. I knew when the vein blew the second time because it felt just like the first attempt. I was so tired and hurting by this point I told her she could try one more time but after that I didn’t want a hep lock if it didn’t work a 3rd time. It wasn’t required and I knew I could decline it, I just wanted one in case I needed it. Luckily the third attempt on my right hand worked, but it was painful even after she put it in. It was a constant annoyance and I remember saying to Josh later that next child I would decline it because it hurt more than surges. Later on in labor, though, I am glad I had it because they used it for several things including water to keep my hydrated.
I was surprised that the nurse didn’t ask to check me when I checked in to the hosptial. She came back in a few minutes later and asked if she could check me because my midwife wanted to know how far progressed I was. I told her that was fine but I didn’t want to know what I was dilated to. She checked and told Josh. I didn’t know at the time but I
was dilated to a 3, which is what I was 5 days earlier at my last appointment. I am glad I didn’t know what I was because I would have been really discouraged. I was tired and fell asleep on the hospital bed. Everyone else settled in on couches, chairs, and the floor. There
can only be 4 people in the room at any time in addition to Josh so everyone traded where they slept. My mom and sister started on the couch by the window (which they said was freezing) but ended up sleeping out in the waiting room by morning. I felt bad so many people were sleeping on the floor. I got some sleep but it wasn’t the most restful. I was
woken up every hour to put on the fetal monitors for 20 minutes to make sure Asher was doing well. This coupled with surges still waking me up occasionally left me with much less sleep than I would have liked.
The morning was slow. I kept waiting for my midwife to come. I asked the nurse when she would be here and she said they normally come in around 9am. 9am came and went. Around 10am I was getting nervous. She had been gone for a couple days over the weekend for a wedding and while I knew she had a backup midwife who would come if she couldn’t, I had never met her. I wanted Paula to come so I could feel comfortable going into active labor. I think I was holding back waiting for her. While we waiting Laurel, Natalie, Joshua and I went for a walk around the halls of the labor and delivery unit. There wasn’t much room to walk but we walked back and forth along the two hallways they had. Surges came when they wanted and often I didn’t have much time to do anything before they started. For some funny reason most of the surges came at one spot in the hallway near a Christmas tree, which I thought was kind of cool. One time I was near the tree right in the middle of the hallway and one started. With everyone supporting me we took up most of the hallway. Right at that moment a janitor came by with a cart who needed to pass. The poor man slipped past us as best he could in the small amount of space he had. I am sure he thought I was crazy… but then again I am sure its not the first time he has seen a woman laboring at his job. 🙂 Sometime surges would come and if no one was around or they were busy with something else I would lean against a wall to relax as the surge came over me. I often didn’t have time to say anything so I would just lean against a wall and relax into the surge. Then someone would see me having a contraction and they would all run over to support.
Natalie talked to me a bit after the walk. She said she sensed that I was hesitant and fearful of birth and I was holding labor back. She said I needed to make the decision to go into active labor. I think I was waiting for my midwife to arrive. Finally after 10am she came. She had several patients in labor that day and needed to see a few others before me. She asked to check me and she told Josh what I was. I didn’t want to hear but I overheard the number 3. I couldn’t believe that I was only a 3. I had been in labor for over 24 hours. How could I possibly not have dilated at all? In my mind I thought I was more like a 7 or an 8.
At this point I was an emotional wreck. I was exhausted from laboring so long and not getting much sleep. I was so frustrated that I hadn’t advanced. Paula mentioned her opinion that we need to send our guests home and I felt she was right. I was sobbing out of frustration and disappointment at my lack of progress. Laural and Natalie consoled me
and told me it was ok to cry and it was ok to be disappointed. The doualas, videoographer, and photographer all packed up and told Josh to call when things progressed. When they left Paula asked if I had labored in the water yet. I hadn’t realized but I hadn’t labored in a tub or shower the whole time. I had thought this would be my primary way to labor but I just never did. We filled up the tub and I got in it. I was still sobbing and Josh tried to calm me down and told me not to be disappointed. I remember telling him between sobs, “Laurel said I could be disappointed!” He was a great support and helped me while I cried in the tub. I calmed down after a bit and after an hour in the tub (I thought it was only about 15 minutes but Josh tells me it was an hour) I was really hot and uncomfortable. So I got out and continued laboring in the room. Paula came back in and checked me. Once everyone left and I labored alone with Josh in just one hour I had gone from a 3 to a 5. I
was so relieved that I was progressing. I think I felt too much pressure to “perform” with everyone around.
My mom and sister came back in the room at this point and helped me through some surges. The nurse on call was in the room at one point when I looked at Josh after a powerful surge and asked rhetorically, “Why did I want to do this natural again?” The amazing nurse said, “Because you can do it!” I was so grateful to her for that. I have no idea if she has ever done a natural birth herself but the fact that she was positive and supportive was amazing. All the nurses I had throughout the process were all very supportive like that, which I appreciated so very much.
I felt bad but I talked to my mom and told her to go home. I felt that Joshua and I needed to be alone. For the next couple/few hours (again… I have no idea of how much time passed) Joshua and I labored together in the hospital room. These moments were among my favorite of laboring because of how intimate it was. It was just me and my husband working together to get through each surge. I felt so very close to him as he helped me through each wave. By this point the contractions were painful and overall exhausting. He let me labor as long as I could but at one point I looked at him and said that I think I wanted to consider an epidural. He looked relieved. I told him I could handle the intensity of the contractions, but I needed rest. I was just too flat out exhausted from laboring for so long without much sleep. I knew the surges were too powerful and too close together for me to sleep with and I needed rest. He told me that he agreed, and he called the nurses station to ask that Paula come back in. I must have looked like hell at this point because
Paula came in and before we could tell her our intentions to discuss pain relief she took one look at me and said, “My dear, I know you want to go natural but I think you need to consider an epidural so you can rest.” I don’t think I even said anything, just nodded. The nurse immediately called the anesthesiologist and started working to prepare me for the epidural. I remember feeling like it was outside of my control as everyone whisked around me getting ready for the anesthesiologist to come in. I was too tired to really care, though. Each surge that came after we made the decision to get an epidural was hard because I just wanted to sleep and I knew relief was coming.
I had a sign on the door that said Natural Birth in Process and the anesthesiologist must have seen it when he came in because the first thing he said to me was, “Change your mind?” I think it was mostly because of the exhaustion but it made me feel like a failure or
something as he said it so gleefully like he was happy I didn’t make it without drugs and I didn’t appreciate it. I replied that I just needed sleep. As he was preparing to inserted the needle I got another surge. Joshua supported me through it and I was grateful I had one just before the needle was put in because I knew I needed to keep still and I wouldn’t have been able to during a surge. Right after the surge ended I curled up in a ball with Joshua holding me in front and I felt a large prick in my back and then a lot of pressure. It wasn’t that bad and I am really glad I didn’t have to see it go in. It didn’t take that long to insert and once it was done the doctor taped a tube up my back and to my right shoulder for the medicine to go into. I suddenly realized it might be too late to ask but I asked if I could have the lowest dose possible. I told him I just needed enough medicine to dull the surges
enough to sleep through. He said it would start out at the lowest dose and I would have a button to push if I needed more. Then he redeemed himself when he said, “You can use a lower dose because are a hypnobirthing woman, so you are one tough chick.
Once the epidural started working I noticed it was working more on the left side of my body, which I heard was normal. I had to push the button twice to up the dosage until I felt I was just numb enough to sleep. I curled up on my left side so that the window light wasn’t in my eyes and fell asleep. I woke up a few hours later and it was getting darker. I
noticed that I was feeling the surges in the right side of my body but my left was numb and tingly. It was really weird only feeling surges on one side. I told the nurse and she explained that because I slept on my left side that the medicine would affect me more on the side. So I switched to lay on my right side and over time it did get better, but my
left was still more numb. Paula came in and checked me and I was at a 7! She suggested that I get a small amount of pitocin to help move my body along. She thought that my body needed a bit more direction on how to labor so that things would progress. She was concerned that me and the baby would get too worn out if it took too much longer. Joshua and I agreed as we trusted her opinion. I knew that if Paula suggested an intervention, it was really a good idea because her rate was so low and she believed in nature taking its course whenever possible. She started me out with 1ml of pitocin, which she was was less than a teaspoon. Paula told me to go back to sleep and rest up because I didn’t realize
how much work it would take to push out our baby. She was right and I am so glad I slept more.
Every hour for the next few hours my nurse would come in and up the dosage by 1ml and stopped at 3ml. Sometime in the late evening I woke up after sleeping off and on for about 6 hours since the epidural. I felt an urge to push, but I thought it was wishful thinking. I went to roll over when I noticed my bed was wet. I thought I had accidentally relieved
myself in bed when I remember I had a catheter in so that wasn’t possible. Suddenly I realized that my water had broke! I immediately told Josh and we called the nurse in. She confirmed that it was my water that had broke. I felt so very relieved that it was time to push! The nurse mentioned that we would have to wait for Paula to come back to see
how dilated I was because my birth plan stated I only wanted my midwife to check me. At this point I was past the point of caring. I told the nurse, “I trust you, you can check.” She checked and took some time taking off the glove and saying something else that I can’t remember before telling me what I was. I thought she was stalling because I wasn’t dilated enough. Then she said, “Your cervix is gone, you are a 10.” I was so relieved and happy! Looking back I should have got another nap in while we waited for Paula but I was too excited.
I had Josh text my mom and Laurel. I talked to Josh and we both decided that there were too many people previously and it was distracting me. I still really wanted a birth video and photographs so I wanted them to come back to document it. So I texted Sarah that I wanted them to come back but that I wanted it quiet. I would be listening to my midwife and following her direction and I needed everyone else to be quiet. I didn’t want too many conflicting opinions on how to push and I wanted it to be me, Josh and Paula working to bring this baby into the world. I asked the nurse to have the anesthesiologist turn down the epidural so I could feel my lower half when pushing. When he came he turned it down
but reminded me that I could always push the button to have the medicine kick in again. I think he thought I was crazy for turning it off. 🙂 We waiting for a bit until I had more feeling in my legs. They were still tingly and my left leg especially was still limp and useless but other than that I could feel just about everything. One of the main reasons I wanted to birth naturally was so I could move into different positions depending on what my body told me to do. With the epidural wore off I was able to do that.
If you had asked me the day Asher was born how long I had pushed for, I would have guessed an hour or so. I am told I was pushing for 3 hours before Asher was born. I am grateful it didn’t feel like 3 hours at the time. I started out pushing laying on my right side with my mom holding up my left leg in the air and Josh on my right side with his arm around me and supporting me emotionally. Each time I would push I would take a deep breath and bear down. My head would come off the pillow and Josh would put his head up against mine so our foreheads were together. It made me feel like we were pushing our son out together and it made me feel very close to him. At one point Laurel told Josh that he needed to sit down. I was really focused on pushing but I did notice that he nodded and left to sit on the chair. Laurel stepped in where he was to support me. I found out later that he had been holding his breath with me while I pushed. Couple that with the fact that he had been up for almost 40 hours straight and hadn’t taken time to eat much he was
turning white. He took a break for a while and then came back when he felt better. I didn’t realize that he hadn’t been taking care of himself. He was so focused on me that he forgot to eat and sleep like a normal person. We were both exhausted and hungry but it was close to the end.
We tried this side position for some time before my midwife suggested trying another osition. She asked the nurse to get out the birthing bar – a bar that went at the end of the bed that I could put my feet on and pull on with my arms to push more effectively. My mom had to help me move my left leg, which was still pretty useless but we eventually got me so my feet were up against the sides of the bar, my knees bent, and I was able to pull against the bar when pushing. Then we tried another position where I held on the bar and pushed.
I did that position for a while and then the midwife suggested doing the tug of war. The nurse grabbed a bed sheet and tied a knot in each end. Josh went to the end of the bed and stood behind the midwife holding one end of the sheet. I was sitting up in the hospital bed and had the other end of the sheet. When a contraction came we would both pull on the sheet, basically playing tug of war. It must have been the best position for me to birth in because the first time we did it Paula sounded very positive about the results. “Great job! Keep going!” This was the way I pushed for the rest of the delivery.
As I was pushing I suddenly felt a lot of pressure and most of all burning. I suddenly realized he was crowning. I knew this only because I had heard Cyndi call crowning “the ring of fire.” That title is all too fitting. I cried out that I was crowning. Everyone got excited because they realized he was close to being born. I was so concentrated and out
of it that I didn’t put that together. I was in transition, and it was by far the hardest part. I pushed a few more times with contractions using the tug of war method with Josh. The pressure and burning increased and I asked for the epidural back. Laurel gently said, “You
are past the point of no return. You just need to push.” I suddenly didn’t want to do it anymore – any of it. I was in so much pain and I wanted it to stop. I remember asking Paula, anyone really, to “Reach up and just pull him out!” I didn’t think I could push anymore. Paula told me that the only way to stop the pain was to push through it. This was
agonizing to me because pushing caused more burning! I had to cause myself more pain to make the pain stop. It seemed counter-intuitive. My whole lower body felt as if it were going to split in two. There was so much pressure and burning and I couldn’t think straight. I just wanted it all to stop. My mom put her head up against mine and told me that she had birthing me and that I had the strength to birth my son.
I knew Paula was right – I had to push through the pain in order to make it all go away. I just wanted so badly to be done – done with pregnancy, done with labor, done with the pain most of all. So I pushed. At this point the pain was so bad that I was singing through each contraction and push. I am sure I was off key but I sang loud and high to get through each push. I remember thinking at one point that some poor woman might be hearing me in another room. I keep pushing and pushing. I was so exhausted. I didn’t think I could do it any longer. Someone, Sarah I think, asked Paula if he was stuck. In my little birthing world I heard someone say that he was stuck. At this point I got pissed. I was not about to go through two days of laboring just to have my baby get stuck at the very end. I was also pissed that I had to go through all this and not Josh. This was the only time in labor that I was mad at Josh. Luckily this helped because it gave me a new determination to push. With all the energy I could muster I pushed while pulling with all my might on that stupid sheet with Josh. I put all my anger and frustration into pulling and pushing. I was so tired and hungry I didn’t think I could push any more.
The next contraction I didn’t push. I was too tired. Paula mentioned that I had missed a contraction but I didn’t care. I was tired. I thought I could do one more. One is all. So I pushed with all my might. I wanted this baby out of me! I wanted to be done. B t he didn’t come out. Paula asked for my hand and told me to feel my baby’s head. I briefly touched it. While this is probably a tender moment for many moms, I was too focused to emotionally think about the gravity of what I was feeling. I was feeling my baby for the first time outside the womb. Everyone in the room was excited but I was totally focused on pushing this baby out. I quickly pulled my hand back up and decided I could push once more. I
pushed again. I remember just wanted this baby out of me so I could be done. I wanted a meal and sleep. The pain was immense. I expressed out loud that I felt as if I were going to tear in half. Laurel assured me that I would not, but it sure felt like it, especially when I pushed. I took it one push at a time – literally. I would rest in between and think to myself that I just had to push once more. Push after push I kept thinking of only the one push more I had to do. Each push was a push I didn’t have to do again and our baby was coming closer to birth.
Finally I pushed one more time with all my might and suddenly he flew out. And I mean flew! His head was so big that as soon as it was out the rest of his body flew out so fast because I was pushing so hard that his feet went over his head. Paula even looked surprised. I felt him come out and a huge relief of pressure throughout my lower body. I remember saying, “I just had a baby!” in complete surprise. Paula pulled him up in an
attempt to put him on my chest but she realized that the cord was too short. She couldn’t even pull him up enough for me to see him. She told me she couldn’t put him on my chest and I replied exhaustly that it was ok, just remember to do delayed cord clamping because that was really important to me. She said even though it had been about a minute that
the cord was already white and had stopped pulsating because it was so short. I just nodded and Josh cut the cord. At this point all I had seen of my baby was part of the top of his head. I never had to push out the placenta because it came out just after Asher because the cord was so short.
Once Josh cut cord the nurse realized Asher’s oxygen levels weren’t high enough so they had to take him to the warmer and give him oxygen. My mom told Josh to go see his son but he replied he needed to be with me. I appreciated that but told him to go see our baby.
After a while they were finally able to bring Asher to me. Josh put him on my chest and I finally was able to look at him and see what he looked like. It was a great moment to have Josh beside me and our new son in my arms. I was so glad it was over with and that he was here, healthy and safe. He was born at 1:41am on the 31st. I had labored for 43 hours and
pushed for 3. He was 21 inches long and weighed in at 8 lbs 14 ounces, although my midwife said that he had his first bowel movement when he was coming out of the birth canal and that is was about 2 ounces of poop. So she told me that for all intents and purposes, I pushed 9 lbs of baby out. 😀
I was so exhausted and a little disappointed that I didn’t have a huge rush of love for our little son right after birth. I loved him, but I expected more of a overwhelming feeling of love right away. For me, that feeling came a few hours later when I was nursing him when he was only a few hours old. I looked down at him and realized that he was mine. The
feelings of love and attachment came over me and I realized that I never wanted to let him go. I didn’t want him to grow up because then I couldn’t hold him in my arms. Since then I have tried to enjoy holding him and cherishing the moments I have with him because I know he is and will grow up, and that is how it should be. I am trying to enjoy watching him develop instead of feeling sad that he is growing. I am trying to soak in all our moments together.
In spite of the longevity of my labor and the intensity of him crowing at the end, I am completely happy with the experience. When people hear I had a 43 hour labor they usually apologize or express sympathy for me. I don’t feel cheated or disappointed that my birth was long and if I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a single thing that I had control over. I enjoyed laboring at home but am grateful we chose a hospital to birth in, especially for the resources we needed with Asher’s oxygen problems and the help I had from the nurses during the beginning of my recovery. I do not feel disappointed in myself for getting the epidural – it was a needed tool for me to rest up and I am grateful it was
available when I needed it. I couldn’t have done it without my amazing midwife and her knowledge and determination to provide me the birth I wanted. I think most OBs would have done an intervention with the length of my labor even though Asher’s heartbeat was strong the entire time. A midwife delivering in a hospital really was the right choice for us.
The experience was not what I had envisioned but it was a beautiful and emotional journey that I wouldn’t change for anything. I went through so much and learned so much about myself. I feel stronger and empowered by it all. I did something I thought I couldn’t do. I pushed past my limits and drew strength from within that I did not know I had. I realized how strong I was. Additionally, my relationship with my Heavenly Parents, my mom, and my amazing relationship with my husband grew stronger. Joshua was by my side supporting me the whole time and I love him more for it. I feel we now have a deeper love and a better relationship because he was with me every step of the journey of becoming parents. I am grateful that we chose to birth the way we did because for us it was the best experience possible.
All these amazing photographs were taken by Katherine Loveless Photography.